San Diego's Lincoln Club, which steps forward each election time on behalf of Republican candidates by savaging their opponents with hit pieces, has shut down its latest political committee, called the Public Integrity League Opposed to Jen Campbell for City Council 2018.
During little more than two months of life, the league spent most of the $353,000 it raised on anti-Campbell mailers, television spots, social media ads, phone calls, and polling in an effort to keep Republican Lorie Zapf on the city council. In the end, $18,000 of cash remaining unspent was refunded to the Lincoln Club on November 2, four days before the election. Zapf fell to Campbell 56 percent to 44 percent.
The anti-Campbell campaign was modeled after the Lincoln Club's successful effort to unseat a Democratic county supervisor two years ago, when it formed the Public Integrity League of San Diego Opposed to the 2016 Re-election of Dave Roberts.
The Lincoln Club is remembered for its repeated hits on Nathan Fletcher's bids to become San Diego mayor. This year, another of the club's political committees, Job Creators for a Strong Economy, sent out hit pieces against Fletcher's bid for county supervisor, touting the former Assemblyman's favorable ratings by the National Rifle Association before he switched parties from Republican to Democrat.
"Nathan Fletcher has a proven record of standing up to gun-grabbing liberals like Lori Saldana," said one of the mailers, which insiders opined were designed to confuse Democratic voters regarding Fletcher's newly-minted gun control mindset.
But this year, the aspersions cast by the Republicans against Campbell's reputation were outweighed by a committee named San Diegans Against Hate opposing Lorie Zapf for City Council.
That effort was predominantly funded by labor unions, which seized the chance to tip the balance of power at city hall out of the hands of the GOP. Anti-Zapf donors included the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 569, the Progressive Labor Alliance, hotel workers union Unite Here!, and the District Council of Iron Workers.
To help fund its anti-Campbell drive, the Lincoln Club recruited utility giant Sempra Energy, which kicked in $7500, Mission Beach amusement park proprietor Pacifica Enterprises, with $10,250, and the apartment-owning Zygi Wilf family, which rounded up a total of $52,500. In addition to the Lincoln Club, the other donor to the anti-Campbell fund was the Building Industry Association of San Diego County, a pro-development lobbying organization, with $45,000.
Expenses, per the erstwhile integrity league's December 4 going-out-of-business filing, included $21,740 for YouTube advertising, $5000 for Google ad placements, and $31,750 for social media advertising paid to Public Dynamics, run by former Lincoln Club executive Ryan Clumpner.
AX Media of Kansas City, owned by Axiom Strategies, the largest Republican consulting firm in the country, got $70,061 for TV buys, the filing shows.
Last year Axiom took over San Diego's Revolvis, co-founded by Jason Roe and Duane Dichiara. According to Axiom's website, Dichiara and Stephen Puetz, former chief of staff to San Diego mayor Kevin Faulconer, now work for the firm. Roe ran this year's supervisorial bid of ex-District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis against Fletcher.